Yours, Mine, or Ours – Settling the Question on D.B Cooper’s Parachutes


Practically the only thing Cooper sleuths agree on regarding the parachutes provided to the hijacker were that there were FOUR total chutes given to him at SeaTac Airport. On many other details, people disagree. Until a couple of years ago when author Geoffrey Gray, (Skyjack) released hundreds of pages of F.B.I. files about Cooper, there have only been two traditional sources of information about the parachutes. The first was a man named Earl Cossey, a parachute rigger who packed at least three of the parachutes that were provided to Cooper. The other source was the occasional news article. The game changed when Gray released those unedited files, because one of the documents plainly states where and how the chutes were acquired for the hijacker. This document, shown below in its original form, was a report written up for F.B.I. headquarters by Special Agent John Detlor.

Since Cooper requested ‘two front chutes and two back chutes,’ this writer will refer to them the same way to avoid confusion. ‘Front’ chute, for our purposes, means a reserve parachute, usually attached near the belly of the jumper. A ‘back’ chute is the main parachute, which a jumper straps onto his back.

Below is a photograph of the original FBI document by Agent Detlor:

Report done shortly after the Cooper hijacking by FBI agent John Detlor, showing exactly how Cooper’s parachutes were obtained and brought to SeaTac Airport.

Where are these parachutes NOW, you might ask. And HOW were they used by the hijacker? Good questions. Answers below.

The two reserve (front, belly-pack type) chutes provided by Linn Emerick of Seattle Sky Sports:

1:  One of the reserves was actually a ‘trainer’ and could neither be opened, used, or attached. It was sewn shut. This chute was NOT found on board Flight 305 after it landed in Reno, and there is no evidence it was cut open or cannibalized by the hijacker. Since it could not be used, or even attached to a harness, it is assumed the hijacker probably tossed it from the jet after he opened the airstairs. Which means someone might still find it somewhere in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.

2:  The other reserve chute was opened by Cooper using the ripcord, and cannibalized for its paracord, which Cooper used to secure the money bag. He was seen using a small knife to do this by stewardess Tina Mucklow. The remains of this chute are still being held in evidence by the F.B.I.

The two main (rear, backpack-type) chutes provided by Norman Hayden of Kent, WA:

1:  The C-9 canopy packed inside its NB-8 (‘Navy Backpack 8’) container was used by Cooper to jump from the jet. It has not been found, although many people believe the famous ‘Amboy Chute’ discovered in 2008 is Cooper’s chute, despite the F.B.I.’s denials. The main claim given on why the Amboy Chute wasn’t Cooper’s is based mostly on the testimony of Earl Cossey, who said he dismissed it because the Amboy chute was silk, he said, and the one he packed was nylon. However, this claim has been roundly discounted by experts who saw pictures the F.B.I. provided of the Amboy chute. More about that HERE in another article.

2:  The other backpack chute was found on board Flight 305 after it landed in Reno. It was not opened or used by the hijacker. It remained in evidence with the F.B.I. for many years, and was finally returned to owner Norman Hayden. He later donated it to the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, WA – where it can be seen today.